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Early Learning Standards by State | Guide for Teachers

Discover your state’s early learning standards

Early Learning Standards by State | Guide for Teachers

early learning standards

Over the last decade, there has been significant progress on strengthening early childhood education and supporting greater accountability for child outcomes. Developing early learning standards for individual states has been the backbone of these initiatives. These standards build consensus about crucial educational outcomes and approaches, outline expectations, and help focus curriculum development. As a result, teachers and families can provide the necessary support for children’s growth and development. 

However, early learning standards and guidelines vary by state, so we’ve put together this guide to cover all US states' early learning standards.

Teacher showing a child how to play with her toysSource

What are early learning standards?

According to the Office of Early Childhood Development, early learning standards are frameworks for defining children’s developmental goals at specific milestones.

Why early learning standards are important

Promotes high quality early childhood education

Early learning standards promote holistic growth in children. These standards focus on curriculum development to help teachers and caregivers provide a holistic, developmentally appropriate education for children. A diverse early childhood development curriculum covers the areas of physical, language, cognitive and social-emotional development. 

Establishes consensus on educational outcomes and approaches

All children are unique and require a defined early education approach. Early learning standards provide the framework for establishing consensus so educators and families are aligned on each child’s educational outcomes.

Early learning standards by state

Two children drawing flowers on papersSource

Learning standards are unique and vary by state. Below, we cover each state’s early learning standards. 

Alabama early learning standards

The state of Alabama uses the Alabama Developmental Standards for Preschool Children. These standards offer guidelines for:

  • Family and community engagement
  • Social-emotional development
  • Approaches to play and learning
  • Science exploration and knowledge
  • Mathematical thinking
  • Language and literacy
  • Creative arts
  • Physical development and health

Alaska early learning standards

Alaska uses the Early Learning Guidelines, Birth to Five early learning standards. The standards offer guidelines for teaching English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Arizona early learning standards

Arizona has two early learning standards—Infant and Toddler Guidelines and Early Learning Standards

  • Infant and Toddler Guidelines define expectations about what children should know across developmental domains and how parents and caregivers can offer optimal support.
  • Early Learning Standards establishes a framework for planning quality learning experiences for children between three and five years of age.

Arkansas early learning standards

Arkansas uses the Arkansas Child Development and Early Learning Standards: Birth through 60 Months. These standards offer a framework for understanding what children know, understand, and can do at different ages.

California early learning standards

The state of California has three early childhood education standards:

 

Colorado early learning standards

Colorado has several resources:


Connecticut early learning standards

Connecticut’s Early Learning and Development Standards, Birth through Age 5 outlines what teachers and caregivers should teach children from birth to age five. The standards foster teamwork among schools, families, and communities. Early Childhood Special Education ensures disabled children are provided free and appropriate public education according to individual needs.

Delaware early learning standards

Delaware’s early learning resources include the Delaware Early Learning Foundations (Infant/Toddler) and Delaware Early Learning Foundations (Ages 3-5).

  • Delaware Early Learning Foundations (Infant/Toddler) describes what happens to children through infancy and toddler years. It is also a guide for parents to available appropriate resources to support children’s growth and development.
  • Delaware Early Learning Foundations (Ages 3-5) is a curriculum framework that guides daily, weekly, and monthly early childhood education planning. In addition, it outlines the types of learning opportunities children need before joining kindergarten.

District of Columbia early learning standards

The District of Columbia uses the DC Common Core Aligned Early Learning Standards. The standards focus on several domains and inform families and teachers about what children should know and be able to do. Also, they describe how children should develop at various ages and stages.

Florida early learning standards

The Florida Early Learning Developmental Standards Birth to Five outlines knowledge and skills a child should know and do at the end of a developmental milestone.

It covers the following domains: physical development, approaches to learning, social and emotional development, language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific inquiry, social studies, and creative expression through arts.

Georgia early learning standards

The Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (GELDS) advocates for quality learning experiences for children and addresses what children, from birth to five, should know and be able to do. The standards are flexible and support children’s individual growth.

Hawaii early learning standards

The Hawaii Early Learning and Development Standards (HELDS) outlines how children should behave and what they should know at different developmental milestones.

It covers the following domains: physical wellbeing, health, and motor development; social and emotional development;, approaches to learning; cognition and general knowledge; and English language arts and literacy. 

Idaho early learning standards

Idaho’s Early Learning Guidelines define what children should know and do at specific developmental stages. 

It covers the following domains: approaches to learning and cognitive development; physical wellbeing, health, and motor development;  social and emotional development; general knowledge; communication, language, and literacy.

Illinois early learning standards

Illinois has two early learning standards—Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Age Birth to Age Three and Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards. 

The Illinois Early Learning Guidelines provide teachers, caregivers, and policymakers with a framework for understanding what children should know and do as they grow and develop. The guide also offers ideas on creating beneficial early learning experiences for children.

On the other hand, the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards outline expectations for children’s growth, development, and learning in the early years.

Indiana early learning standards

Indiana’s Early Learning Foundations provide a framework to support teachers, caregivers, and policymakers to develop appropriate experiences for children. 

It covers the following developmental domains:

  • English/language arts
  • Mathematics
  • Social-emotional skills
  • Approaches to play and learning
  • Science, social studies, creative arts
  • Physical health and growth

Iowa early learning standards

The Iowa Early Learning Standards cover five competency levels: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Kansas early learning standards

The Kansas Early Learning Standards provide a framework teachers can use to plan activities and engage in conversations with children and their families about early learning.

The standards cover the following eight domains:

  • Approaches to learning
  • Physical development
  • Social and emotional development
  • Communication and literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Creative arts

Kentucky early learning standards

Kentucky’s Early Childhood Standards: Birth Through Five provide a framework to help parents and education professionals understand what children should know and do from birth to five years old.

The standards cover the following developmental areas:

  • Approaches to learning
  • Health and physical wellbeing
  • Language and communication development
  • Social and emotional development
  • Cognitive and general knowledge

Louisiana early learning standards

Louisiana’s Birth to Five Early Learning and Development Standards outline key developmental milestones for children from birth to age five.

The standards cover the following domains: 

  • Approaches to learning
  • Cognitive development and general knowledge
  • Language and literacy development
  • Physical wellbeing and motor development
  • Social-emotional development

Maine early learning standards

Maine has two early learning standards—Supporting Maine’s Infants and Toddlers: Guidelines for Learning and Development and Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS)

Supporting Maine’s Infants and Toddlers: Guidelines for Learning and Development provides parents, teachers, and policymakers with development and early learning guidelines. It covers the following domains: 

  • Strong and healthy bodies
  • Social-emotional development
  • Communication skills
  • Cognition

Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS) also provide a framework for early childhood learning and teaching. It covers the following domains:

  • Social and emotional development
  • Approaches to learning
  • Creative arts
  • Early language and literacy
  • Reading standards for literature
  • Physical development and health
  • Math, science, and social studies

Maryland early learning standards

Maryland’s early learning standards come from two different sources:


Massachusetts early learning standards

Massachusetts has five early learning standards: 


Michigan early learning standards

Michigan State has three early learning standards:


Minnesota early learning standards

Minnesota’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress outlines the framework for equitable access to educational programs for all children. It covers physical and movement development, language, literacy, communications, mathematics, science, social systems, approaches to learning, arts, and social-emotional development.

Mississippi early learning standards

Mississippi has two early learning standards—Early Learning Guidelines for Classrooms Serving Three and Four Year Old Children and Kindergarten Guidelines.

The learning standards outline guidelines for curriculum development, educational materials, assessment, learning program organization, teachers' certification requirements, family engagement, transportation, and physical activity.

Missouri early learning standards

The Missouri Early Learning Goals outlines the framework for the following domains from birth to kindergarten entry:

  • Approaches to learning
  • Social and emotional development
  • Physical development, health, and safety
  • Language and literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts

Montana early learning standards

Montana’s Early Learning Standards, Birth to Age Five guide teachers and families to ensure children from birth to age five have skills and knowledge for learning and development success. 

It covers the following core domains:

  • Emotional and social
  • Physical
  • Communication
  • Cognition

Nebraska early learning standards

Nebraska’s Early Learning Guidelines (ELGs) help teachers and families support children from birth to five years old to acquire knowledge for holistic development. The standards cover the following domains:

  • Approaches to learning
  • Creative arts
  • Health and physical development
  • Language and literacy development
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social and emotional development

Nevada early learning standards

Nevada has two early learning standards—Nevada Infant and Toddler Early Learning Guidelines and Nevada Pre K Standards and Early Learning Guidelines

Both outline developmental guidelines families and teachers can refer to. They cover the following domains:

  • Cognition and general knowledge
  • Language and communication development
  • Personal and social-emotional development
  • Approaches to learning
  • Physical development and health

New Hampshire early learning standards

The New Hampshire Learning Standards: Birth through Five outlines supporting and enhancing children’s development from birth to five years. It covers the following domains:

  • Social and emotional development
  • Language development and emergent literacy
  • Cognitive development, including early numeracy, science and social studies, and approaches to learning
  • Physical development and health
  • Creative expression and aesthetic appreciation

New Jersey early learning standards

New Jersey has two early learning standards—New Jersey Birth to Three Early Learning Standards and Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations, Standards of Quality.

Both guidelines provide the framework for early childhood learning, covering the below. The New Jersey Birth to Three Early Learning Standards covers these five domains:

  • Social and emotional development
  • Approaches to learning
  • Language development and communication
  • Cognitive development
  • Physical and motor development

On the other hand, Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations and Standards of Quality cover these domains:

  • Early childhood assessment process
  • Social-emotional development
  • Visual and performing arts
  • Health, safety, and physical education
  • English language arts
  • Approaches to learning
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social studies, family, and life skills
  • World languages
  • Technology

New Mexico early learning standards

The New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines, Birth Through Kindergarten outline outcomes from preschool to kindergarten and expectations for families and teachers.

It covers the following domains:

  • Physical development, health, and wellbeing
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Aesthetic creativity
  • Scientific conceptual understanding
  • Self, family, and community
  • Approaches to learning

New York early learning standards

The New York State Early Learning Guidelines is an integrated, coordinated, multi sector workforce framework for teachers, families, and other education policymakers. These guidelines serve as a resource about children’s developmental milestones between birth and age eight and provide strategies that early childhood professionals can implement to their practices. 

In addition the New York State Prekindergarten Learning Standards: A Resource for School Success consolidates all learning standards for four year olds in one document.

North Carolina early learning standards

The North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning and Development provide the framework for curriculum formulation and implementation, improving children's knowledge, formulating goals for child development, and informing parents about best practices.

It covers the following domains:

  • Approaches to play and learning
  • Emotional and social development
  • Health and physical development
  • Language development and communication
  • Cognitive development 

North Dakota early learning standards

North Dakota Early Learning Standards Birth to Kindergarten provide guidelines for holistic child development from birth to five years. They cover the following domains:

  • Social and emotional development
  • Language development and communication
  • Cognitive development
  • Physical and motor development

Ohio early learning standards

Ohio’s Early Learning and Development Standards provide the framework for guiding children’s early education learning from birth to five years. 

The standards cover the following domains: 

  • Language and literacy development
  • Physical wellbeing and motor development
  • Social and emotional development
  • Cognition and general knowledge

Oklahoma early learning standards

Oklahoma has three early learning standards—Oklahoma Early Learning Guidelines for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos, Oklahoma Early Learning Guidelines for Children Ages Three Through Five, and Oklahoma PASS Standards for Pre Kindergarten.

The guidelines cover the following domains: 

  • Approaches to learning
  • Creative skills
  • Communication skills and early literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Physical development
  • Health and safety
  • Science
  • Social and personal skills
  • Self and social awareness

Oregon early learning standards

Oregon’s Early Learning and Kindergarten Guidelines align and expand on learning and development standards in five domains: 

  • Approaches to learning
  • Social-emotional development
  • Language and communication
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics

Pennsylvania early learning standards

Pennsylvania’s Learning Standards for Early Childhood provide the framework for curriculum development, children's assessment methods, and learning instructions.

Rhode Island early learning standards

Rhode Island’s Early Learning and Development Standards outline the framework for what children should know and do. They also define the metrics for measuring progress toward achieving specific learning outcomes.

South Carolina early learning standards

South Carolina’s early learning standards are:


South Carolina's early learning standards cover six developmental domains: physical health, emotional development, social development, motor development, language, and communication development, and cognitive development.

South Dakota early learning standards

The South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines outline developmental milestones for children at specific stages. It covers domains like approaches to learning, social and emotional development, communication, language and literacy, cognitive development, and health and physical development.

Tennessee early learning standards

Tennessee’s Early Learning Standards outline developmental milestones for children in specific age groups from birth through five years. 

Texas early learning standards

Texas early learning standards are Texas Infant, Toddler, and Three Year Old Early Learning Guidelines and Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Both standards provide teachers and families with the information and tips to prepare children for success in early childhood learning.

Utah early learning standards

Utah’s early learning standards are Utah’s Early Learning Guidelines for Birth to Age Three and Utah’s Early Childhood Core Standards (Preschool). These standards assist public preschools in making informed decisions concerning curriculum development to prepare children for kindergarten.

Vermont early learning standards

The Vermont Early Learning Standards outline what children should know and do. They also outline what teachers and families should do to help children learn fast.

Virginia early learning standards

Virginia’s early learning standards include Milestones of Child Development: A Guide to Young Children’s Learning and Development from Birth to Kindergarten and Virginia’s Foundation Blocks for Early Learning: Comprehensive Standards for Four:Year:Olds

These standards cover the following domains:

  • Social-emotional development
  • Approaches to learning
  • Language and literacy
  • Cognition and general knowledge
  • Fine arts
  • Physical development and health

Washington early learning standards

The Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines, Birth through 3rd Grade define what children should know and do at different stages of development and how early learning professionals and families can help support children’s healthy development. 

West Virginia early learning standards

West Virginia has two early learning standards—West Virginia Early Learning Standards Framework: Infant/Toddler and Early Learning Standards Framework. These standards cover developmental domains such as:

  • Cognitive development
  • Language and literacy development
  • Motor development
  • Creative expression development
  • Social-emotional development
  • Approaches to learning

Wisconsin early learning standards

The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards outline a framework families and educators should follow to facilitate holistic child development. The following domains are covered in the framework:

  • Health and physical 
  • Social-emotional 
  • Language and communication
  • Approaches to learning
  • Cognition

Wyoming early learning standards

Wyoming uses the following early learning standards—Early Learning Guidelines (ages 0-3) and Early Learning Foundations (ages 3-5). They cover the following domains: 

  • Communication
  • Sense of self and relationships
  • Curious minds
  • Strong and healthy bodies

Wrapping up

Early learning standards are crucial for holistic child development since they provide the framework for curriculum development. They also define how educators and families can support their child’s growth. Each state’s guidelines and standards vary, so be sure to check with your specific state resources for detailed information. 

To learn about more activity ideas for young children that can promote learning across developmental domains, check out our free list! 

Activities Across Developmental Domains - brightwheel

Download our free list of activities across developmental domains!


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